“Could we have been dealt a more unusual hand?”
That has probably been the dominant thought of most first-time voters this election cycle. The notion that many college-aged students are participating for the first time in the selection of the next U.S. president when the campaign could not be more divisive is as intriguing as it is real.
Over the past 18 months this election has caused division and discourse the caliber of which the country has never seen before, let alone first-time voters who have been exposed to it through virtually every facet and avenue made possible by social media.
It has also demanded our attention. Thanks to the combination of social media and the countless narratives that have bloomed as a result of the election – some necessary, others overshadowing much more important issues facing our country – it’s difficult to imagine any person without passionate opinions or viewpoints to contribute. Talk of #Decision2016 lingers at the water cooler, becomes the central focus of discussion in classrooms and drives conversations between friends over a beer on Friday evenings.
Important issues have been raised during this campaign and in the ways the media has chosen to cover it, which have not always been done in the most informative and ethical ways. Immigration, honesty, foreign affairs and, most recently, sexual assault have all been at the forefront at some point or another, though some might say they really haven’t been covered at all — not to the standards which must be met in a presidential race.
It has been an interesting election cycle in that regard. Some might even call it sensationalized, a commercial form of politics that has made for good memes or the punchline of jokes on late night TV.
In the midst of it all, we have, at the epicenter, two candidates that a poll by ABC News/Washington Post recently concluded were the most unfavorable ever. In that vein, many are sympathizing with the romantic idea that this could finally be the year a third-party candidate – whether it be Gary Johnson or Jill Stein or another still – breaks through. Whether that means making a legitimate dent in the race on election day or making it all the way to the Oval Office, third party voters need to decide whether they’re actually trying to win, or just want to play the part of spoiler.
“Yes, at the very least,” many Millennials might be thinking, “this campaign has ensured that there is no way I could be apathetic in future elections.”
And they would be right. The way this election has pervaded everyday life and media, it’s impossible to think how we could not be so invested every four years from now on, even if future candidates set similar marks for favorability among voters.
Make no mistake – there is a reason so many have said there is so much at stake come Nov. 8. On that, in an incredibly divisive cycle, everyone can agree on. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump say as much on a near daily basis at this point.
A Supreme Court seat waits to be filled, and more will be empty in the next four years. Conflict rages in Syria. Riots denouncing the alleged systematic abuse of minorities, and fatal police shootings of unarmed citizens, seem to be a daily occurrence. Federal debt stands at nearly $20 trillion, and has grown every year this century. The middle class continues to disappear as the nation resembles more and more a society of such drastic financial contrasts as to belong in a dystopian tale.
All that and more await the next commander-in-chief. And it is imperative that everyone utilize their democratic prerogative – the passion they’ve displayed at water coolers, in class, over an evening beer – to help decide who will lead the country in 2017 and beyond, at a time when the world keeps changing faster than we can keep up.
As such, the Daily Lobo will not be utilizing its editorial capacity to officially endorse a candidate for president this year. Instead, the editorial board chooses to spotlight the power that nearly everyone reading this holds – the power of voice.
Vote, on Tuesday, Nov. 8.
Vote, so that the more we see, hear and read about on the news applies to us, the more we feel invested in it. 2016 is no time to be apathetic to the issues our country faces.
Vote, so that the person who takes office next year is the candidate that truly represents the American people, at a point in our history where we need to be more united than ever in ensuring our democratic liberties are not taken for granted, and our civil liberties are being safeguarded as our Founding Fathers would want them to be.
Vote, so that America remains relevant in a world that becomes more connected by the minute, full of conflicts and affairs as relevant in the study rooms of UNM halls as they are in the desolate mountain ranges of Asia.
Vote, so that the families, the children, the loved ones of those who inevitably won’t vote don’t live to regret it.
Vote, because if you choose to stay home on Nov. 8, you might regret it.
This editorial was written by members of the Daily Lobo Editorial Board, and represents the views of the newspaper. The board can be reached at opinion @dailylobo.com.